While promoting the three-and-a-half-hour Netflix mob epic The Irishman, the news and politics site asked De Niro,:"So who do you think beats Trump in 2020?" De Niro, who has been vocal in his condemnation of the president, admitted he wasn't sure but said he was leaning toward the South Bend, Indiana mayor.
"I like Buttigieg," he said. "[...] He's got all the credentials -- Rhodes Scholar, Afghanistan veteran -- even though he's young, and if he could get a chance it could be something special, I think."
Although the Buttigieg campaign has faced concerns about whether voters will support an out LGBTQ+ candidate in the race, DeNiro said Buttigieg's sexual orientation is of benefit to his campaign. "As a gay person, he's someone who comes from a marginalized community, so people from other ethnic groups can identify with him, even if they're not gay, because they know what it's like," he said.
"I think he's the best for what we need now," De Niro concluded.
Despite his interest in Buttigieg, De Niro left the door open to supporting other candidates, including billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose recently announced campaign he described as "a vanity thing."
"What else are you gonna do when you have all that money?" De Niro said.
The actor also signaled that he would consider backing former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, despite offering faint praise for the candidate. "Biden could get us into calmer waters, that would be a good thing," he said. "He means well."
While Biden continues to lead Buttigieg in national polls by double-digit margins, Buttigieg's shot at the White House got a bit more momentum in the last week, as he boasts a six-point lead in the Iowa caucus in survey averages conducted by RealClearPolitics. In addition, he remains in a dead-heat for first place in the New Hampshire primary. Both polls are held in February.
Last week's presidential debate could further help the candidate make his case. Separate polling conducted by FiveThirtyEight shows he emerged from the face-off with higher support than he had going in. Buttigieg and Warren were tied for first place among respondents, both scoring of 3.2 out of 4.
Before the debate, just 25.6 percent of respondents said they would be likely to vote for Buttigieg in 2020. Afterward, that number increased to 31.9 percent, the biggest jump in support for any candidate.
Still, Joe Biden continued to lead in FiveThirtyEight polling, with his support jumping from 53.9 percent to 55.6 percent after the debate.